The Do’s and Don’ts of Foreclosure

Facing a foreclosure is a scary thing, but there are things you should do – and shouldn’t do – to avoid making the situation worse. As more and more homeowners face the possibility of foreclosure, so much information is available.  But, not all of it is good…or correct.  If a foreclosure is about to happen to you, be smart by following these tips.

  • DO answer the phone and read your mail. Avoiding your lender won’t make the problem go away. In fact, it will only make the problem worse. Your lender may be able to help you, so be sure to answer the phone and read any mail they may have sent you.
  • DO realistically assess your situation. Are your financial problems temporary? If you are temporarily out of work and will be fine once you find a new job, call your lender. Lenders may be able to offer a forbearance or repayment plan.
  • DO consider your options. If you are not in a position to keep your home, consider selling it before you face a foreclosure. If you have already missed a mortgage payment, call your lender. There may be purchase options, like a short payoff or assumption (see sidebar) that help avoid foreclosure.
  • DO be aware of certain financial responsibilities. Even if your lender sells your property, you may still be responsible for the difference in the sale price and what you owe. It is also important to realize that you may be responsible for certain taxes when a lender forecloses on your property. However, the IRS does provide tax relief in certain situations .
  • DO protect your wealth. Recognize that you may have significant equity in your property that must be preserved.
  • DON’T move out of your home. In order to qualify for assistance, homeowners are often required to be living in their home. Be sure to talk to your lender before you think about moving.
  • DON’T ignore the problem. It may be possible to keep your home, but if you wait to take action, fewer options will be available. You have certain rights and can take certain actions to help you keep your home; however, you only have a limited amount of time to assert those rights or take those actions. Talk to a lawyer or legal aid organization, since your rights vary from state to state. Most states and large cities have legal aid organizations; to find one near you, go to the Legal Services Corporation , a government-sponsored organization that provides high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
  • DON’T convince yourself you can afford a home if you can’t. Most lenders will only lend what a borrower can afford, but some less scrupulous lenders will allow borrowers to get in over their heads. In some cases, a home that was affordable becomes unaffordable due to changes in your life circumstances. If your mortgage is truly beyond your means, consider selling your home and purchasing a less expensive home or renting for a period of time before the only option left is foreclosure. Call your mortgage company; they may be able to help you avoid foreclosure by agreeing to an assumption or a short payoff.
  • DON’T fall victim to a scheme. Some people want to profit by your misfortune by offering to contact and conduct all work-outs and negotiations with your lender on your behalf – for a fee. View a helpful video Freddie Mac posted YouTube titled “Foreclosure Scams 101.”

If you need help to save your home from foreclosure, click here to GET HELP NOW!

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Save Your Home When You Understand Your Foreclosure Alternatives

If you are one of the many homeowners facing tough choices in today’s economy, we understand. We know that looking for assistance with your mortgage and deciding where to go for help can be confusing and frustrating. And we’re here to help.

Whether your financial hardship or current situation is temporary or more permanent, options are available. Even if you have decided you want relief from the responsibility and the burden of your mortgage payments, now’s the time to take action before it’s too late. The last thing you want is to have a foreclosure on your credit report.

To help, Fannie Mae has created KnowYourOptions.com — so homeowners can understand their options. That website will also help you learn more about how you can avoid foreclosure and so you can have a more informed discussion with your mortgage company or housing counselor about your options.

Know Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure.

There are many options for homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage payments. Below is just an overview of some options that may be available to you:

Refinance
A new loan — with new terms, interest rates and monthly payments — that completely replaces your current mortgage. Even if your home value has decreased, you may be able to refinance your loan as part of the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). Refinance benefits:

* Make your payment more affordable by lowering your interest rate or adjusting the terms of your loan
* No negative impact to credit score
* Stay in your home and avoid foreclosure

Repayment Plan
An agreement between you and your mortgage company that lets you pay the past due amount on your mortgage payments over a specified time period in order to bring your mortgage up to date. Repayment plan benefits:

* Catch up on your past due payments over an extended period of time
* Less damaging to your credit score than a foreclosure
* Stay in your home and avoid foreclosure

Forbearance
An offer by your mortgage company to temporarily suspend or reduce your monthly mortgage payments for a specified period of time. Forbearance benefits:

* Have time to improve your financial situation and get back on your feet
* Less damaging to your credit score than a foreclosure
* Stay in your home and avoid foreclosure

Modification
An agreement between you and your mortgage company to change the original terms of your mortgage — such as payment amount, length of loan, etc. You may be eligible for the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) created to help struggling homeowners. Modification benefits:

* May reduce your monthly mortgage payments to a more affordable amount
* Less damaging to your credit score than a foreclosure
* Stay in your home and avoid foreclosure

Short Sale
A short sale is the sale of a home for less than the balance remaining on your mortgage. If your mortgage company agrees to a short sale, you can sell your home and pay off your mortgage balance with the proceeds. Short sale benefits:

* Eliminate or reduce your mortgage debt
* Assistance for relocation may be available
* May be able to recover your credit score — and get another mortgage — faster than if you went through foreclosure

Deed-for-Lease™
A new program that allows you to temporarily lease your home. You first transfer the ownership of your home to the mortgage company (called a Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure, see below) in exchange for release from your mortgage loan and payments. You can then rent the property back — at an affordable rate — and remain in the home as a tenant. Deed-for-Lease benefits:

* Stay in your home and neighborhood — no need to move or relocate
* May be able to recover your credit score faster than if you went through foreclosure
* Assistance for relocation may be available at the end of your lease
* Avoid foreclosure

Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
With a Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure (DIL), transfer the ownership of your property to your mortgage company in exchange for a release from your mortgage loan and payments. DIL benefits:

* Eliminate or reduce your mortgage debt
* May be eligible for relocation assistance
* May be able to recover your credit score — and get another mortgage — faster than if you went through foreclosure

To discuss your options with the Certified Professionals at The HomeFetchers Team, click here: Get Help Now

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Come And Get It…Government Awards $1 Billion In New Housing Aid

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan awarded an additional $1 billion in funding to all states along with a number of counties and local communities struggling to reverse the effects of the foreclosure crisis. The grants announced today represent a third round of funding through HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and will provide targeted emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire, redevelop or demolish foreclosed properties.

“These grants will support local efforts to reverse the effects these foreclosed properties have on their surrounding neighborhoods,” said Donovan. “We want to make certain that we target these funds to those places with especially high foreclosure activity so we can help turn the tide in our battle against abandonment and blight. As a direct result of the leadership provided by Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, who played key roles in winning approval for these funds, we will be able to make investments that will reduce blight, bolster neighboring home values, create jobs and produce affordable housing.”

The funding announced today is provided under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. To date, there have been two other rounds of NSP funding: the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) provided $3.92 billion and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) appropriated an additional $2 billion. Like those earlier rounds of NSP grants, these targeted funds will be used to purchase foreclosed homes at a discount and to rehabilitate or redevelop them in order to respond to rising foreclosures and falling home values. Today, 95 cents of every dollar from the first round of NSP funding is obligated—and is in use by communities, buying up and renovating homes, and creating jobs.

State and local governments can use their neighborhood stabilization grants to acquire land and property; to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned properties; and/or to offer downpayment and closing cost assistance to low- to moderate-income home buyers (household incomes do not exceed 120% of area median income). In addition, these grantees can create “land banks” to assemble, temporarily manage, and dispose of vacant land for the purpose of stabilizing neighborhoods and encouraging re-use or redevelopment of urban property. HUD will issue an NSP3 guidance notice in the next few weeks to assist grantees in designing their programs and applying for funds.

NSP 3 will take full advantage of the historic First Look partnership Secretary Donovan announced with the National Community Stabilization Trust last week. First Look gives NSP grantees an exclusive 12-14 day window to evaluate and bid on properties before others can do so. By giving every NSP grantee the first crack at buying foreclosed and abandoned properties in these targeted neighborhoods, First Look will maximize the impact of NSP dollars in the hardest-hit neighborhoods—making it more likely the properties that communities want to buy are strategically chosen and cutting in half the traditional 75-to-85 day process it takes to re-sell foreclosed properties .

NSP also seeks to prevent future foreclosures by requiring housing counseling for families receiving home buyer assistance. HUD seeks to protect future home buyers by requiring states and local grantees to ensure that new home buyers under NSP receive homeownership counseling and obtain a mortgage loan from a lender who agrees to comply with sound lending practices.

In determining the allocations announced today, HUD, as it did with NSP1, followed key indicators for the distribution formula outlined by Congress. HUD is using the latest data to implement the Congressional formula. The formula weighs several factors to match funding to need in the 20% most distressed neighborhoods as determined based on the number and percentage of home foreclosures, the number and percentage of homes financed by a subprime mortgage related loan, and the number and percentage of homes in delinquency. To estimate the level of need down to the neighborhood level, HUD uses a model that takes into account causes of foreclosures and delinquencies, which include housing price declines from peak levels, and increases in unemployment, and rate of high cost and highly leveraged loans. HUD also considers vacancy problems in neighborhoods with severe foreclosure related problems.

In addition to a third round of NSP funding, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act creates a $1 billion Emergency Homeowners Loan Program to be administered by HUD. This loan program will provide up to 24 months in mortgage assistance to homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and have experienced a substantial reduction in income due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition. HUD will announce additional details, including the targeted areas and other program specifics when the program is officially launched in the coming weeks.

[Source: hud.gov]

Stay tuned to http://HomeFetchers.com for more housing updates…

or call the 24-Hr Home Hotline at: 877-610-1717

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CalHFA Offers New Program To Keep Your Home in California

The U.S. Treasury Department has approved CalHFA’s plan to use nearly $700 million in federal funding to help  California families struggling to pay their mortgages. The “Keep Your Home” programs are focused on assisting low and moderate income families stay in their homes, when possible, and leveraging additional contributions from lenders and mortgage servicers.

Primary objectives for the Keep Your Home Program include:

* Preserving homeownership for low and moderate income homeowners in California by reducing the number of delinquencies and preventing avoidable foreclosures

* Assisting in the stabilization of California communities. Each of the Keep Your Home programs is designed to address one or more aspects of the current housing crisis by doing the following:

* Helping low and moderate income homeowners retain their homes if they either have suffered a financial hardship such as unemployment, have experienced a change in household circumstance such as death, illness or disability, or are subject to a recent or upcoming increase in their monthly mortgage payment and are at risk of default because of this economic hardship when coupled with a severe decline in their home’s value.

* Creating a simple, effective way to get federal funds to assist low and moderate income homeowners who meet one or all of the objective criteria described above. Speed of delivery will be balanced with fulfillment of the specific program’s mission and purpose.

* Creating programs that have an immediate, direct economic and social impact on low and moderate income homeowners and their neighborhoods.

CalHFA is not taking applications or maintaining waiting lists for the Keep Your Home Programs at this time.  The Keep Your Home programs are under development and will not be available until November 1, 2010. If you are currently struggling to make your mortgage payment, are in any stage of mortgage delinquency or are already facing foreclosure, it is important for you to contact your loan servicer or a HUD-certified housing counselor immediately. When the program does roll out, here are some important facts:

*Anyone who did a cash-out refinance is ineligible

*Homeowners who have lost their job and are in imminent danger of foreclosure due to a short term financial problem can obtain a payment subsidy of up to $1,500 or 50% of their monthly mortgage payment, whichever is less–for up to six months.

*Homeowners who have missed one or more payments can receive up to $15,000 or 50% of the past due amount, whichever is less, to reinstate the mortgage and prevent a foreclosure.  The lender, loan servicer, mortgage insurer, and or borrower must match the catch-up money on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

*Homeowners who have severe negative equity can receive up to $50,000 to reduce the principal balance on their mortgage to a market level to prevent an avoidable foreclosure and promote sustainable homeownership.

*Homeowners who can’t afford to keep their home and are willing to participate in the lender’s short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure program can receive a one-time grant of up to $5,000 to transition to a more affordable residence.

To qualify, the home must be occupied as the primary residence, income restrictions must be met, a hardship must be evident, and there must be the ability to make the modified payment arrangement. Expect modifications to the program prior to rollout. A chart of the  income limits with this program is available. Please call the 24-Hour Home Hotline at 877-610-1717 ext 111 to request the chart of income limitations and other restrictions. If you would like to be notified when the program is activated in California, please send an email request to: CALHFA@homefetchers.com or call the 24-Hour Home Hotline with your contact information.

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Is It Morally Right To Do A Strategic Default

To walk  or not to walk away from your mortgage…that is a tricky question.  Is a strategic default or disposal an ethical or even moral issue…..or is it simply a contractual issue?

Here’s the thing…as your REALTOR,  it’s not my job to play moral police.  It is my job, and my passion, to help homeowners (and buyers).  So, in this epically distressed real estate market it’s my MORAL responsibility to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. If that means providing a strategic short sale for your homeowners…so be it.

The goal must be: Fewer Foreclosures.

More and more commercial real-estate companies are doing what many indebted homeowners would like to do: Walk away from mortgages on properties that are now worth a lot less than they paid for them.

Today’s Wall Street Journal highlights three major developers – Macerich, Vornado Realty Trust and Simon Property Group – that have recently decided to default on mortgages. Even the Mortgage Bankers Association defaulted on their $92 million dollar corporate building.  Yes, you read that right…the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

When companies do this, no one bats an eye…it’s just “smart business.”

When ordinary homeowners think about strategically walking away from their mortgage, the mortgage industry and government begin moaning that a mortgage is more than a business contract. It’s a social contract, in which homeowners have a “moral obligation” to pay.

That’s is just plain crazy. An individual mortgage is no different than a corporate mortgage. If corporations are allowed to walk away from mortgage obligations without feeling shame and guilt, then individuals should be able to do so, too.

The contract homeowners sign when they take out a mortgage spells out exactly what happens if the homeowner stops making payments on the loan. The lender has the right to foreclose on the house, taking the homeowner’s downpayment with it. In addition, the borrower’s credit rating will usually get destroyed, and, in some states, the lender can come after his or her other assets to recoup the capital the lender has lost.

Those are big penalties. They provide a major incentive for the borrower to continue making his or payments. And that’s why the lender, a corporation, put them in the contract.

Importantly, the lender voluntarily entered into the contract–and it did so because it thought doing so was a smart business decision. That it actually turned out to be a lousy business decision is not the homeowner’s fault. It’s the lender’s fault. And the borrower, who is already feeling plenty of pain his or herself, should not have to bear the burden of guilt and shame on top of everything else.

If you are ready to weigh your options: to walk or not to walk…
Call our office today at 877-610-1717

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Housing Prices Continue To Fall…Is The Bottom In Sight?

Everyone wants the glory days to return…when they had hundreds of thousands of dollars of paper equity in their homes. But does anyone think that will ever happen again? Perhaps, only the people who predict the resurgence of the dot.com boom years. So, if you thought the housing crisis was over, it’s not quite finished yet.

Despite four years of falling prices and recent signs that they were finally bottoming out, homes are expected to lose still more value in many metro areas over the next year. Many say at least until 2013.

The simply, undeniable fact is we are in a long term housing bust. Terms like the ‘L Shaped Recovery’ are being tossed around. Some expect that the housing market and housing values will bounce along a very protracted horizontal line for 10+ years. In other words, no significant appreciation or depreciation. There is some validity to this viewpoint.

There is simply no way that the sheer volume of bank controlled ‘shadow inventory’ combined with….. 1) Changing attitudes about owning a home vs being a renter 2) Demographic shifts 3) Stricter lending standards 4) High unemployment 5) Over supply of housing stock…… wont result in more price erosion in most major cities. “When I drive past all the vacant homes, it’s hard to believe we are anywhere near a bottom.”, says Tim Harris of Harris Real Estate University.

That’s the conclusion of economists who have been reducing their estimates for home prices as the outlook for the economic recovery has darkened. The number of homes for sale or headed for foreclosure is so high that they think prices will be even lower by next July.

Because housing is such an important engine of the economy, lower prices could dim the recovery. When home values fall and people have less equity, they tend to cut back on spending. And as prices decline, potential homebuyers stay on the sidelines, slowing sales even more.

The average home price in the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index of 20 big U.S. cities is forecast to drop nearly 2 percent this year from a year earlier, according to the average estimate of more than 100 economists polled this month by MacroMarkets LLC.

That’s more pessimistic than in May, when the consensus was for prices to be nearly flat. Other, more bearish analysts think prices will sink 10 percent or more.

Price drops of more than 10 percent are expected in the Phoenix, Miami and Las Vegas areas over the next year, according to Moody’s Analytics. Those areas have already been scorched by 50 percent declines in home values.

The average home price in the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index of 20 big U.S. cities is forecast to drop nearly 2 percent this year from a year earlier, according to the average estimate of more than 100 economists polled this month by MacroMarkets LLC.

That’s more pessimistic than in May, when the consensus was for prices to be nearly flat. Other, more bearish analysts think prices will sink 10 percent or more.

Price drops of more than 10 percent are expected in the Phoenix, Miami and Las Vegas areas over the next year, according to Moody’s Analytics. Those areas have already been scorched by 50 percent declines in home values.

Moody’s predicts that other areas — New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Tampa, Fla.; and Washington D.C. — will see declines of 2 to 8 percent by next July.

Nationally, about 7.1 million homeowners — more than 13 percent of households with a mortgage — have either missed at least one payment or are in foreclosure, according to data provider Lender Processing Services Inc.

That is an amazing number. Here are a few more stats for you. Its estimated that 50% of all homes are owned…no mortgage. Of the 50% with a loan…50% of THOSE are upside down. Or, 25% of all home owners are upside down in their home.

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